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Thread: Democratic Debate Highlights.

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    PhinPhan1227's Avatar
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    Democratic Debate Highlights.

    The Iowa Debate
    Highlights and lowlights.
    By William Saletan
    Posted Monday, Jan. 5, 2004, at 1:07 AM PT


    Having written about Howard Dean for the last three weeks, I'm going to give readers a break and cover highlights from all the candidates in this debate. I'll assess Dean's performance tomorrow.

    The most useful thing about this encounter was that each participant who had a snowball's chance of winning the nomination cited at least one issue on which he's distinct from nearly everybody else in the field. Here's the list.

    Dean: "I opposed the Iraq war. With the exception of Dennis [Kucinich] and Carol [Moseley Braun], everybody else supported it." Unchallenged.


    John Edwards: "[I propose] doing something I don't think anyone else up here does: raise the capital gains rate for those who make over $300,000 a year." Unchallenged.

    Dick Gephardt: "Everybody up here except Dennis voted for NAFTA and voted for the China [trade] agreement. They did the wrong thing. … I'm the only one who has led on this issue for over 20 years." Challenged by Edwards.

    John Kerry: "I am the only presidential candidate who has offered a plan that actually reduces health-care costs for the 163 million Americans in the workplace who get their health care through work." Challenged by Edwards.

    Joe Lieberman: "I'm the only candidate up here who goes beyond the existing tax cuts and would give 98 percent of the taxpayers a new income tax cut." Unchallenged.

    Now for the awards.

    Worst question. Moderator Paul Anger to Kucinich: "Given your personal decision not to consume animal products, how can you assure livestock producers you will be an advocate for them as president?" (Hypothetical follow-up to Lieberman: "Given your personal decision not to accept Jesus as your savior, how can you assure Christians you will be an advocate for them as president?")

    Second-best question. Panelist Michele Norris to Lieberman. "Why does the nation spend 10 times as much on people of your generation than on your grandchildren?"

    Best question. Norris to Dean: "A hallmark of your campaign has been the pledge to repeal the Bush tax cuts across the board. Does this include tax cuts that are intended to provide some measure of relief for the middle class—the child tax credit or the lifting of the marriage penalty? And specifically, what kind of tax relief are you proposing for middle-class and working-class families?"

    Second-most shameless pander. Gephardt: "[Dean] kind of runs against all of us in Washington and says that we haven't done anything. I guess I've got a question for him: Is he saying that [Iowa Sen.] Tom Harkin has never done anything good?"

    Most shameless pander. Gephardt: "A state like Iowa is already undercompensated for Medicare. I have a bill with [Iowa Rep.] Leonard Boswell, who is here today, to try to correct that problem."

    Second-most craven answer. Anger: "Roger Lansky, Senator, of New Hampton, Iowa, wants to know whether you would change what he calls the 'subsidy mentality' of the farm program to a market-based program." Lieberman: "First, let me say that agriculture is just a critical part of American economic life and American history and American life. Secondly, the 2002 farm bill, which Sen. Harkin was a lead sponsor of, and I supported, improved the previous program of Freedom of Farm with a series of countercyclical subsidies that I think are appropriate. So right now I would say no."

    Most craven answer. Norris: "Why does the nation spend 10 times as much on people of your generation than on your grandchildren?" Lieberman: "The answer to this is not to cut back on aid for seniors. The answer … is to cut back on the Bush tax cuts for the high income and for corporations. …"

    Bravest answer. Anger: "How do you ensure national security if you succeed in your plan to cut the defense budget by 10 percent?" Kucinich: "Well, actually, I called for the defense budget to be cut by 15 percent."

    Best answer. Panelist David Yepsen: "I talked to a lot of Democrats who say they really like what you have to say, but they don't think you're electable." Kucinich: "Well, you know, I'm electable if you vote for me."

    Second-biggest stretch. Edwards: "I have been preparing for this fight my entire life. I fought in courtrooms for 20 years for you."

    Biggest stretch. Lieberman: "To change the subject as Howard does and to say that we haven't obliterated all terrorism with Saddam in prison is a little bit like saying somehow that we weren't safer after the Second World War after we defeated Nazism and Hitler."

    Cheapest shot. Kerry to Dean: "You've said that we have to prepare for the day when America isn't the strongest military." (Dean never said this was desirable or imminent.)

    Worst slander. Gephardt: "I'm proud of what we've done to fight back against the Bush administration. They tried to put more arsenic in the water."

    Most surprising candor. Edwards: "Everybody on this stage is talking about spending money. They're talking about spending money on education. They're talking, in varying degrees, about spending money on health care. … There is a tension between spending money and reducing the federal deficit."

    Second most surprising moderation. Braun: "We can't afford to go the route of just protectionism that will jump-start a depression. … To stand and tell the American people that protectionism will somehow or another keep jobs in this country is just not true."

    Most surprising moderation. Braun: "I opposed the war also, Dennis. But … we can't just cut and run. We blew the place up. We have a responsibility to at least fix it back."

    Worst excuse. Kerry to Dean: "You've said that the president of the United States had prior warning about September 11th. You got it off the Internet; you passed it on to national television." Dean: "You better go look what I said about Saudi Arabians tipping off the president. I said I didn't believe it."

    Best excuse. Dean on why he won't unseal all his gubernatorial records: "If somebody is gay and they write me that, and they don't care to have that information disclosed to the public, that's their right."

    Ugliest collision with a fact. Gephardt: "Everybody up here, except Dennis, voted for NAFTA and voted for the China agreement." … Edwards: "I didn't vote for NAFTA. I campaigned against NAFTA." … Gephardt: "Well, John, you weren't in Congress when NAFTA came up, so you couldn't vote." … Edwards: "But you just said I voted for it." Gephardt: "I understand." Edwards: "You understand?" (Laughter.)

    Least falsifiable argument. Dean: "Sen. Lieberman said that we were safer now that Saddam has been caught; I beg to differ. … We now have, for the first time, American fighter jets escorting commercial airliners through American airspace." (If fighter jets weren't escorting airliners, Dean would use it to make the same point.)

    Worst use of first-name basis. Dean: "I was asked yesterday by Newsweek what would I do if I was the president and the troops had Osama in their sights."

    Worst use of French. Dean: "I have a lot of friends from the South. In the South, people do integrate religion openly, easily into their lives, both black Southerners and white Southerners. I understand that if I'm going to campaign for the presidency of the United States, I have to be comfortable in the milieu that other Americans are comfortable."
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    Best points made were by Braun, worst points Lieberman. He senses the gig is up he lost the Dems backing last time out and has reduced self to whining about each candidate's most tangent policies.

    Braun makes some terrific points in most professional fashion, she has a state dept. or further UN ambassador posts awaiting, aside from possible Education Dept. oversight. Kerry has some merit, but his ties to DC entrenchment have really made him less of an item exceopt for his comparison to Bush whom he towers above on intellect merit points. his vocal style is almost as irritating, and to hear both in a debate is something nobody reall to see "brought on".
    Kucinich, for his great points to make
    that could win over hard line Dems, seems to be so far to one side to lose moderate support from either side of the aisle. His best points on trade, health care, education are still overshadowed by his inability to come to grips with our unfortunate assertion of presence in a war zone,
    Dean and CLark seemed to be the best for solving the second biggest issue(polls say)- the war. Both want further UN assistance, increased vet benefits current and former soliders, and the inclusion of an Arab supported coalition to intervene and prevent an "Arab vs. outsiders" rally cry of the former REPUBLICAN GUARD backed Iraqis.
    The war should be a key issue, any free trade issues otherwise should focus on free trade IRAQ policy that would provide the upgrades there that would stifle the cheny-rumsfeld oil lobby. Letting them be middle men, with oil funds from Iraq that would stabilize our prices, stimulate our economy by downing production/supply/distributive models for scale economy, and provding new markets for American subsidized Agribusiness on the major scale that has unfortunately become our main provider model in that sector of the economy.
    It would then quell the thief lobby wing that is overrun with pentagoon bueracratic types. The only loser in this would be the north American oil lobby, who by that time will find ways to sanction any South American oil prospective who have not fallen in line with the former Zapata structure chain of command. Those emerging central African nations (aside from Morrocco whose illegal land aquisition has drawn criticism and demanded resolution) will provide enough impact to keep north American price range in the 1.40 per gallon target helping those CLOSEST to the Bush league's inital Oil lobby loyalists.
    In this way the true UN purpose (third world facilitation for industrial devlopment) could find its usual way of saving face for good without hurting the interests of Oil company chairs like former Sec. of State James Baker (a Reagan/Bush man).

    These are the eventual plans of both Powell and CLark, both of whom are distant enough from current parties to perhaps skirt party boundaries and in a Kissinger-like model have substantial influence on business sector politics under the guise of other nation's(allied) security interests.

    See the kind of tangents these problems lead to? No wonder Bush stutters after mettings with so much voluminous capacity/content... but I digress, forgive me for Rumsfeld-like meandering. He would have told you much less in more time.

    Edwards has the kind of appeal for younger block votes , key to western state, in addition to southern/east seaboard appeal. Perhaps he is young and progressive enough to capture the Norteast block votes as well. Imagine him (tobacco lobby) being allied with Dean (a doctor). There are probably three headed paula jones gorgons in his closet, he is still young enough to wet his pecker from time to time, the press would love him in office. He would give them headlines when times were good. Good times have eluded every Republican term of recent memory so the press really never gets its steam rolling in this aspect, thus affairs on their behalf are kindly overlooked.
    Then there is the nic guy Mr. Gephart, who has seemed to almost have straddled the fence on most major issues and eras, and is somehow still around. Great prolabor man, new rich so he has common roots. He would be wonderful for job creation but Clark has as much midwest appeal, is more moderate and carries as much/more credibility for foreign affairs. Gephart and Kerry truly need to STAY in the Senate to give Dems leverage in the Senate to negotiate. A one and a half balance would secure effective Executive branch policy in some measure. An all Demo congress could overspend perhaps as well if it were not for our less than zero interest standing presently as far as Fed interest rates and reserve backing for capital generation.
    The midwest/heartland will be reached either Clark/Gephart, then the East would Dean/Edwards.
    Edwards or Clark can deliver solid south votes minus the diebold states.There has to be enough appeal to get each region demographic reached.
    The wild card is SHarpton, who did not appear. He is a wild card, can offer terrific rebuttals and one-liner soundbites. He does not have a voting history established but he does energize segments who previously did not feel like legitimate participants. This citizen could see him going more to a Nader platform in future times. Regardless his presence serves notice that more people will be included and his points focus and energize many for/against views to what he says. He makes relevant statements for party platforms but perhaps as an independant could dominate a larger voting block within the black demographic.
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    PhinPhan1227's Avatar
    Why is there a watermelon there?

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    The pity of it is, I'd have to give serious consideration to Lieberman if he ever won the Democratic nomination. He's a solid moderate, and seems to do the "right thing" rather than the "Party thing" more often than almost any other candidate I've seen. If Lieberman and a solid VP candidate(like Collin Powell if he ever jumped ship) were on the ballot, I can honestly say that I might vote for him over GW. Dean however is a wacko, Gephart is a Party hack, and I've talked to two senior Commanders who served under Clark in Europe, and both left the service specifically to get away from him(career guys with great accomplishments).
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    Liberman is a whiner who knows his gig is up- he was what drove people away from Gore (aside from Al's own right wing pandering wife) and he will not sniff a nomination. The funniest thing is that Joe "Lieb-botomy" even merits a pdium spot he is a waste of air space and broadcast time.
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    PhinPhan1227's Avatar
    Why is there a watermelon there?

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    Wow...you really ARE a hard left winger. Lieberman at least stands up for what he believs in and doesn't switch his positions every time the wind blows. He hardly "drove people away" from Gore, in point of fact, he brought the only emotion to the campaign since FrankenGore couldn't get a person on X excited.
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    Gore led the vote of a Demo congress to sanction/allow Bush Sr's actions in Kuwait, you seem to forget that fact. His wife was a grandstanding social conservative as well.
    The northeast was not voting for anyone on the Scrubya Bush ticket anyways, Gore picking lieberman was a death knoll to his campaign. Now that he cannot win and is not part of any other candidate's plans he is delighted top play spoiler and be Mr.Soundbite for antidemocrat advertising.
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    PhinPhan1227's Avatar
    Why is there a watermelon there?

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    Congress had to support Sr's actions in Kuwait...there was tremendous pressure from the voters. As for Mrs Gore...who gives a rats rear? Mr's Reagan and Mrs GW are both Pro-Choice...does that make GW a left wing liberal? Lieberman has no chance because there are still too many bigots who wouldn't vote for a Jew regardless of his ideas/policies. But he's still a great politician who actually sticks to his stances. Unlike Dean who has "reinvented" himself more times than Michael Jackson.
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    Michael Jackson is a doctor and can save lives? Really please 1227 stop watching Fox news you are confusing politics with the National Enquirer/funny pages that make the majority of that network's spiel. Howard Dean is a Michael Jackson? And Shrubya is Tito (on a good day)... There was barely any pressure to go to Kuwait... not even the fraud story about baby slaughters at a hospital there (which was later found to be told by a girl going to college in the USA who had diplomat family/ambassador ties there and was false) had enough people saying we needed to be there.

    It came down to 6 votes in the Senate and Al Gore was the person who started the swing vote rally for him...
    By the way the Gore antiterror bill was voted down by Repukes who claimed it was a "smokescreen from the Lewinski affair" and was an obstruction to airline profit margins in the mid to late 90s. It even included a wonderful measure to reinforce cockpit doors to prevent hijacker intrusion but was something that was too expensive for airline to deal with. Of the members on the committe, every repuke on it got airline kickbacks to ensure that dollars went before safety.

    Par for the course... play golf in Texas when we warn you, read schoolbooks to kids after KNOWING that any "accident" like that should key off a full time response for emergency.

    Yeah this is just testing grounds for future debate, each candidate presents their platform leg and the polls discuss their numbers and response. Three months from now the clear frontrunner will be the only matter to discuss and infighting/posturing will be replaced with a full frontal on the Bush league.
    Let's see which clown from his cabinet gets offered up to the PR gods as a scapegoat forthe chimp to attmept a low level under-the-radar flyby for at best a shrugged shoulder negligence case.
    Last edited by Mr.Murder; 01-10-2004 at 04:45 AM.
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    PhinPhan1227's Avatar
    Why is there a watermelon there?

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    The Michael Jackson of 2004 has little or no resemblence to the Michael Jackson of 1984. Dean is quite similar. The Iowa caucasses were a joke a few years ago...now they are key. Huge tax breaks for companies like Enron were a great idea a few years ago...now they are evil(when GW is the one giving the breaks). The man is a perfect Democrat...see which way the wind blows and move in that direction.
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    Adam the Quarterback

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    How would I vote?
    I would vote for Liberman over Bush. I like the cut of Joe's jib. He's a strong leader willing to make tough decisions with a conscience. Reminds me of Truman or Roosevelt.

    I would not dream of voting for Kucinich, Braun or Sharpton because they're too radical and/or victicrats.

    There's a good chance I'd vote for Kerry, Gephart or Clark if they win me over.

    PhinPhan, did you write the first post or is it from a columnist?
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